I have only been to Paris in the summer. When the Champs Elysees is crowded with tourists looking for a bit of shade for relief from a relentless sun. When you decide to save yourself from the metro crowds by walking everywhere until your sandals smell so bad you throw them out rather than ruining everything in your suitcase. When you can spend long evenings watching the sky turn the stone white edifices rose from Montmartre Butte, the Sacre Couer at your back, a bottle of wine on hand, or dance the summer evenings away on the banks of the Seine.
I’ve never been to Paris in the winter, but I can imagine the lamp lit streets and bridges, the snowflakes melting softly into the Seine. And Paris is a city that is always in someways more imagined than experienced, half romance half real. This month, we’re celebrating the city of light with some lovely gift books–for the traveler who has been and wants to remember those fading summer nights, or for someone who is on their way to the sparkling snow-covered boulevards. And for the rest, there are narratives to help you imagine the trip you’ve never taken but someday will.
Flipping through Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart is almost as good as a ticket there. JanelleMcCullough takes the traveler through eacharrondissement by way of gorgeous photographs and alluring prose. This book is coffee table and guide book in one. Looking for something more compact and practical? We have two shelves of guidebooks devoted to helping you navigate the city. Secret Paris, for example, can unlock the city and show you un-looked for corners.
Paris is a city full of stories, imagined and real. Paula Mclain has taken the well-known classic story, A Moveable Feast, and turnedHemingway’s memoir of 1920s Paris into a novel. This time, however, the women speak. The Paris Wife is told from the point of view of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. She narrates the well-known story: from falling in love, to meeting other members of the “Lost Generation” to the final heartbreaking betrayal.Hungry for more stories set in Paris? The NYRB has collected Mavis Gallant’s Paris Stories into one brilliant edition. This would be the perfect read for your flight to France.
And finally, the slim The Night Before Christmas in Paris makes a sweet stocking stuffer for the francophile in your life. Santa Claus is frantic because Mrs. Claus has slipped off to see the sites of Paris. Santa’s sleigh visits the Montmartre, the Left Bank, the Notre Dame, the Ritz in search of his wife. In the end, “His memories were sweet of the City of Light,” as we hope everyone’s are this holiday season, and, of course, to all a good night!